SAT Prep Set to Music

By Ann Bradley — June 14, 2005 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Teenagers grooving to music on their iPods may look as if they’re fooling around. But some are actually studying for the verbal portions of the SAT college-admissions test, thanks to two music lovers.

The duo, whose own days prepping for the tests aren’t all that far behind them, say that rap and hip-hop are excellent devices for learning new words. And their new CD and workbook, “A Dictionary and a Microphone,” offer 12 songs with 500 SAT-caliber words to help teach young people the beauty of the English language.

The idea behind their project, called Flocabulary, is to use a medium popular with teenagers to help them learn new words and their meanings and pronunciations.

“The difference between Shakespeare and Mos Def is really a lot less than people would assume,” Blake Harrison, one of the founders of Flocabulary, said last week.

He was referring, of course, to the famous bard and a popular hip-hop artist and actor, whom he described as “both poets playing with the language in a cutting-edge way.”

Mr. Harrison, who studied English at the University of Pennsylvania and tutors students for a private firm in Boston, wrote the lyrics for the songs. Alexander Rappaport, a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy and Tufts University, wrote the music for the CD.

Students can download the songs for $2 each from the Flocabulary Web site at, or buy the entire CD and a workbook that goes with it.

Flocabulary’s founders hope their study program finds its way into schools, and they already report inquiries from a Baltimore middle school interested in using it in the classroom.

The SAT words used in the lyrics were provided by Sparknotes, the publisher of a series of study guides, Mr. Rappaport said. Sparknotes commissioned two songs and gave the songwriters its list of the top 1,000 vocabulary words to know for the admissions test, two-thirds of which is language-related.

“By using hip-hop we can connect, engage, and motivate students and let them learn in nonintimidating ways,” Mr. Harrison said.

The lyrics to the song “FLO + CAB,” for example, contain several weighty words: “I’m sanguine, optimistic and cheery / the opposite of enervated and weary, you hear me?”


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
How to Leverage Virtual Learning: Preparing Students for the Future
Hear from an expert panel how best to leverage virtual learning in your district to achieve your goals.
Content provided by Class
English-Language Learners Webinar AI and English Learners: What Teachers Need to Know
Explore the role of AI in multilingual education and its potential limitations.
Education Webinar The K-12 Leader: Data and Insights Every Marketer Needs to Know
Which topics are capturing the attention of district and school leaders? Discover how to align your content with the topics your target audience cares about most. 

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education From Our Research Center What's on the Minds of Educators, in Charts
Politics, gender equity, and technology—how teachers and administrators say these issues are affecting the field.
1 min read
Stylized illustration of a pie chart
Traci Daberko for Education Week
Education Briefly Stated: August 30, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: August 23, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: August 16, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read